Australia have lost their Fed Cup tie to the United States following Samantha Stosur’s three-set defeat by American substitute Coco Vandeweghe in Sunday’s first reverse singles rubber.
A fresh Vandeweghe was subbed in to replace injured American No.1 Madison Keys (wrist) and continued her superior record over Stosur, winning 2-6 7-5 6-4 at Brisbane’s Pat Rafter Arena.
It extended the USA’s lead in the tie to a winning 3-0 and ensured a return to the eight-nation World Group next year, while Australia’s long wait for Fed Cup glory continues.
The earliest seven-time winners Australia can now hope to win the Fed Cup is in 2018, having not captured the trophy since 1974.
Tennis Australia spent $100,000 on installing a temporary Italian clay court at the southern Brisbane venue to provide Stosur and Daria Gavrilova with an advantage by playing on their preferred surface.
But that advantage never materialised, with the USA consistently better in the key moments throughout the tie – even without their top three ranked players, Serena Williams, Venus Williams and Sloane Stephens, who all failed to commit.
World No.36 Vandeweghe notched her fourth career win over Stosur, who has not beaten the American since a straight sets win at Flushing Meadows on her way to the 2011 US Open title.
Stosur hit the court with intent on Sunday and made a cracking start to the match, wrapping up a dominant first set in just 28 minutes.
But as soon as victory started beckoning, Stosur’s nerves crept in and she began to disintegrate.
She had all the momentum at 5-4 up in the second set but a couple of ragged games handed the powerful Vandeweghe the chance to serve for the set, and she duly obliged.
Stosur was then unable to find the crucial break she needed in the third set, twice failing to convert break points at 5-4 down – including one woeful overhand shot that boomed well past the baseline.
It was a similar story for Stosur on Saturday, when she won the first set against Christina McHale but then crashed and burned in the second, and failed to convert her chances in the third.
Gavrilova’s scheduled clash with McHale will now no longer go ahead, with the doubles dead rubber brought forward.